I like this hand that holds a cup of tea. A simple cup of tea. I like the way the cup is an extension of the hand. The cup and hand are as one, they know each other, they are made for each other. They are joined together.
Tea is nothing more than that. Tea is nothing more than flavoured water that sustains you and does you good. It is always there for you. A simple pleasure to be savoured in every moment.
In Myanmar (Burma), the production of tea remains highly artisanal. People make both green and black tea. I haven’t found anything special in my tastings so far, but I’m continuing my research.
Here, in the Hsipaw region, the main tea producing area, villagers take the plucked tea leaves home and process them in front of their houses. This is what the local rolling machines look like. They are worked by hand.
In some countries, people don’t just drink tea, they eat it.
Like here, in Burma, where they ferment tea leaves in bamboo tubes before serving them drizzled with sesame oil. This dish is served as part of a meal, but it can also be offered at the end of some family and religious ceremonies.
My quest to unearth the world’s finest teas often finds me travelling familiar roads, whether in China, India, Japan, Nepal or Korea. However, sometimes I need to take a different route.
Exploring new areas is part of my work as a tea researcher; here I am en route to the north of Shan State and the mountains of the Golden Triangle. I’ve heard it said that the main tea producing region of Myanmar is in Namshan.
I’m ready for my adventures of discovery!
This tea seller I met at Heho market keeps very busy. The whole time I was sitting beside her, customers were constantly coming and going, and she couldn’t even spare a couple of minutes to gulp down the bowl of noodles placed to one side.
She mainly sells a black tea which her customers then roast in a pan before drinking it.
This is typical of Myanmar tea: you roast your own tea at home to give it what they call the “taste of fire”. Sometimes toasted sesame seeds are added.
South of the beautiful Lake Innlay, so often shrouded in mist, is one of the two mountains on which the Burmese grow tea. Around Pingluang, more specifically, about 30 kilometres south of the famous lake. This is in Shan State, and it is this beautiful region
I have chosen as the destination for my first journey of the year. Myanmar is changing and is opening up to the rest of the world, and it is time to find out what kind of teas they make in this country.